The difficulty with color is to go beyond the fact that it's color – to have it be not just a colorful picture but really be a picture about something. It's difficult. So often color gets caught up in color, and it becomes merely decorative. Some photographers use it brilliantly to make visual statements combining color and content; otherwise it is empty. - Mary Ellen Mark
I took these words to heart some years ago. I had been on a road of self-evaluation already, starting to realize that despite what Flickr Explore suggests, bright colors and heavy bokeh don't necessarily make a good photo. Mary Ellen Mark's words were my tipping point; I began to realize that content and composition were missing in my work. With this understanding however photography suddenly became much more difficult and complex. A new journey had begun but victory was not a given.
I began shooting exclusively in monochrome; not because color is wrong to use but because I realized I had been using it as a crutch and not using it because I enjoyed it. As cameras advanced and new features were added, I now have the ability to set my viewfinder to black and white which is a huge advantage.
But it is interesting that some images are simply not suited for black and white. It is not for lack of content but the relationship of subject to background can be lost in black and white. The above images lose all of their meaning in monochrome. My intention is to create strong black and white images but I still find the beauty in color when it is not the reason for the photo but when it adds to the meaning and emotion. Although finding one's 'style' is important, allowing for some variation is vital.